Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities in the UK and Australia

Croydon, England and Richmond, Victoria rank #1 as Bible Gateway’s most “Bible-minded cities in the United Kingdom and Australia respectively for 2013.

In our previous posts—“What Are Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” USA Cities?” and “Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities in Canada”—we assembled usage data from 2013 of visitors to that indicate Bible Gateway’s popularity in USA and Canadian cities while also adjusting for population. We’ve now done the same thing with visitor data from UK and Australian cities and compiled a list of the top 50 cities from each. Remember, our data show overall usage regardless of how the reader (visitor) feels about the Bible’s accuracy.

[UPDATE: Read our summary post What Does it Mean to be “Bible-minded”?]

The colors on the following maps indicate usage: dark blue are those cities where Bible Gateway is most popular, light blue are next, then light red, then dark red. The larger the size of the dot, the more relative pageviews occurred from that location on Bible Gateway (the Australia data is relative due to the size of pageviews per resident).

Here are the complete lists:

Top 50 UK Cities on Bible Gateway in 2013

Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities in the United Kingdom

  1. Croydon, ENG
  2. Teddington, ENG
  3. Cambridge, ENG
  4. Guildford, ENG
  5. Oxford, ENG
  6. Canterbury, ENG
  7. Norwich, ENG
  8. Belfast, NIR
  9. Halesowen, ENG
  10. Preston, ENG
  11. Brighton, ENG
  12. Reading, ENG
  13. Maidenhead, ENG
  14. Aberdeen, SCT
  15. Bath, ENG
  16. Manchester, ENG
  17. Woking, ENG
  18. Newcastle upon Tyne, ENG
  19. Cardiff, WAL
  20. London, ENG
  21. Edinburgh, SCT
  22. Worcester, ENG
  23. Bristol, ENG
  24. Southampton, ENG
  25. Liverpool, ENG
  26. Northampton, ENG
  27. Leicester, ENG
  28. Milton Keynes, ENG
  29. Nottingham, ENG
  30. Exeter, ENG
  31. Slough, ENG
  32. Glasgow, SCT
  33. Bournemouth, ENG
  34. Cheltenham, ENG
  35. Sheffield, ENG
  36. Birmingham, ENG
  37. Wolverhampton, ENG
  38. Ipswich, ENG
  39. York, ENG
  40. Derby, ENG
  41. Poplar, ENG
  42. Leeds, ENG
  43. Luton, ENG
  44. Dundee, SCT
  45. Stoke-on-Trent, ENG
  46. Coventry, ENG
  47. Plymouth, ENG
  48. Chelmsford, ENG
  49. Swansea, WAL
  50. Bradford, ENG

Top 50 Australia Cities on Bible Gateway in 2013

Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities in Australia

  1. Richmond, Vic
  2. Cranbourne, Vic
  3. Sydney, NSW
  4. Brisbane, Qld
  5. Adelaide, SA
  6. Canberra, ACT
  7. Perth, WA
  8. Melbourne, Vic
  9. Hobart, Tas
  10. Victoria Point, Qld
  11. Armidale, NSW
  12. Launceston, Tas
  13. Moe, Vic
  14. Murray Bridge, SA
  15. Gawler, SA
  16. Warrnambool, Vic
  17. Echuca, Vic
  18. Toowoomba, Qld
  19. Geelong, Vic
  20. Craigieburn, Vic
  21. Newcastle, NSW
  22. Port Macquarie, NSW
  23. Gold Coast, Qld
  24. Cairns, Qld
  25. Traralgon, Vic
  26. Ballarat, Vic
  27. Mildura, Vic
  28. Bathurst, NSW
  29. Shepparton, Vic
  30. Darwin, NT
  31. Orange, NSW
  32. Taree, NSW
  33. Lismore, NSW
  34. Townsville, Qld
  35. Wollongong, NSW
  36. Melton, Vic
  37. Bendigo, Vic
  38. Wagga Wagga, NSW
  39. Albury, NSW
  40. Albany, WA
  41. Mackay, Qld
  42. Dubbo, NSW
  43. Bundaberg, Qld
  44. Central Coast, NSW
  45. Gladstone, Qld
  46. Redcliffe, Qld
  47. Coffs Harbour, NSW
  48. Tamworth, NSW
  49. Rockhampton, Qld
  50. Sunshine Coast, Qld

We have several United Kingdom and Australian bloggers as members of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid. You may also be interested in reading our blogpost, 2013 Year in Review on Bible Gateway.

Posted by Jonathan

Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities in Canada

Steinbach, Manitoba ranks #1 as Bible Gateway’s most “Bible-minded” city in Canada for 2013.

In our previous post, we assembled usage data from 2013 of visitors to that indicate Bible Gateway’s popularity in U.S. cities while also controlling for population. By popular demand, we’ve now done the same thing with visitor data from Canadian cities and compiled a list of the top 50 cities. Remember, our data show overall usage regardless of how the reader (visitor) feels about the Bible’s accuracy.

[UPDATE: Read our summary post What Does it Mean to be “Bible-minded”?]

Top 50 Canada Cities on Bible Gateway in 2013

The colors indicate usage: dark blue are those cities where Bible Gateway is most popular, light blue are next, then light red, then dark red. The larger the size of the dot, the more relative pageviews occurred from that location on Bible Gateway. We’ve detailed British Columbia and Ontario in the maps below for easier viewing.

Top British Columbia Cities on Bible Gateway in 2013

Top Ontario Cities on Bible Gateway in 2013

Here’s the complete list:

Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities in Canada

  1. Steinbach, MB
  2. Winkler, MB
  3. Langley, BC
  4. Fredericton, NB
  5. Victoria, BC
  6. Moncton, NB
  7. Abbotsford, BC
  8. Saint John, NB
  9. Waterloo, ON
  10. Grande Prairie, AB
  11. Red Deer, AB
  12. Kelowna, BC
  13. Vancouver, QC
  14. Lethbridge, AB
  15. Saskatoon, SK
  16. Richmond, BC
  17. Toronto, ON
  18. Edmonton, AB
  19. Calgary, AB
  20. Richmond Hill, ON
  21. Winnipeg, MB
  22. Chilliwack, BC
  23. Prince George, BC
  24. Surrey, BC
  25. Regina, SK
  26. London, ON
  27. Kitchener, ON
  28. Barrie, ON
  29. Kingston, ON
  30. St. Catharines, ON
  31. Guelph, ON
  32. Burnaby, BC
  33. Coquitlam, BC
  34. Brantford, ON
  35. Markham, ON
  36. Brampton, ON
  37. St. John’s, NL
  38. Windsor, ON
  39. Oshawa, ON
  40. Oakville, ON
  41. Hamilton, ON
  42. Ajax, ON
  43. Peterborough, ON
  44. Mississauga, ON
  45. Ottawa, ON
  46. Greater Sudbury, ON
  47. Burlington, ON
  48. Halifax, NS
  49. Vaughan, ON
  50. Montreal, QC

We have several Canadian bloggers as members of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid. You may also be interested in reading our blogpost, 2013 Year in Review on Bible Gateway.

Posted by Jonathan

What Are Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” USA Cities?

In our previous post, we mused about what Bible Gateway’s statistics would reveal about the most “Bible-minded” cities in the U.S. Crunching the numbers from 2013, we came up with the following charts that indicate Bible Gateway’s popularity in U.S. cities (also see Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities in Canada and Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities in the UK and Australia) while also controlling for population (so more-populous cities don’t dominate the top spots). The charts show some differences between the ABS/Barna data and our own. However, note that we’re measuring different things: the ABS/Barna survey is measuring Bible reading and agreement that the Bible is accurate, while our data show overall usage regardless of how the reader feels about the Bible’s accuracy.

[UPDATE: Read our summary post What Does it Mean to be “Bible-minded”?]

Top 100 Cities on Bible Gateway in 2013
The colors indicate quartiles: the top 25 cities where Bible Gateway is most popular on a per-household basis are dark blue, the next 25 are light blue, the next 25 are light red, and the bottom 25 are dark red. The size of the dot indicates how many relative pageviews per household occurred on Bible Gateway–the cities with the highest usage of Bible Gateway have about five times more pageviews per household than the cities with the lowest usage.

Here’s the complete list of the same 100 cities in the ABS/Barna survey. Many of the changes are quite striking, especially near the top of the list; Washington, D.C., for example, jumps up 77 places, while Atlanta takes the top spot.

City Bible Gateway Rank ABS/Barna Rank Difference in Rank
Atlanta, GA 1 29 +28
Dallas / Fort Worth, TX 2 22 +20
Washington, DC / Hagerstown, MD 3 80 +77
Charlotte, NC 4 6 +2
Nashville, TN 5 13 +8
Raleigh / Durham / Fayetteville, NC 6 27 +21
Waco / Temple / Bryan, TX 7 43 +36
Chattanooga, TN 8 1 -7
San Antonio, TX 9 34 +25
Houston, TX 10 41 +31
Norfolk / Portsmouth / Newport News, VA 11 31 +20
Austin, TX 12 48 +36
Honolulu, HI 13 78 +65
Huntsville / Decatur, AL 14 12 -2
Birmingham / Anniston / Tuscaloosa, AL 15 2 -13
Colorado Springs-Pueblo CO 16 56 +40
Columbia, SC 17 24 +7
Roanoke / Lynchburg, VA 18 3 -15
Tulsa, OK 19 32 +13
Orlando / Daytona Beach / Melbourne, FL 20 65 +45
Springfield, MO 21 4 -17
Kansas City, KS-MO 22 42 +20
San Diego, CA 23 72 +49
Grand Rapids / Kalamazoo / Battle Creek, MI 24 30 +6
Greenville / Spartanburg / Anderson, SC / Asheville, NC 25 8 -17
Los Angeles, CA 26 73 +47
Indianapolis, IN 27 28 +1
Columbus, OH 28 47 +19
Jackson, MS 29 9 -20
Jacksonville, FL 30 18 -12
South Bend / Elkhart, IN 31 39 +8
Greensboro / High Point / Winston-Salem, NC 32 20 -12
Memphis, TN 33 26 -7
Chicago, IL 34 74 +40
Wichita / Huthinson, KS 35 15 -20
Seattle / Tacoma, WA 36 71 +35
Lexington, KY 37 14 -23
Oklahoma City, OK 38 16 -22
Baltimore, MD 39 68 +29
Knoxville, TN 40 10 -30
West Palm Beach / Fort Pierce, FL 41 59 +18
Charleston, SC 42 38 -4
Little Rock / Pine Bluff, AR 43 8 -35
San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose, CA 44 97 +53
Dayton, OH 45 37 -8
Richmond / Petersburg, VA 46 36 -10
Miami / Ft. Lauderdale, FL 47 64 +17
Harrisburg / Lancaster / Lebanon / York, PA 48 69 +21
Mobile, AL / Pensacola / Ft. Walton, FL 49 23 -26
Omaha, NE 50 55 +5
Louisville, KY 51 17 -34
Greenville / New Bern / Washington, NC 52 33 -19
Minneapolis / St. Paul, MN 53 75 +22
Detroit, MI 54 49 -5
Portland, OR 55 61 +6
Madison, WI 56 79 +23
Baton Rouge, LA 57 25 -32
Shreveport, LA 58 5 -53
Phoenix / Prescott, AZ 59 93 +34
St. Louis, MO 60 58 -2
Denver, CO 61 81 +20
Des Moines / Ames, IA 62 53 -9
Tampa / St. Petersburg / Sarasota, FL 63 63 +0
Cincinnati, OH 64 45 -19
Philadelphia, PA 65 57 -8
Spokane, WA 66 54 -12
Bakersfield, CA 67 21 -46
Sacramento / Stockton / Modesto, CA 68 66 -2
Champaign / Springfield / Decatur, IL 69 60 -9
Cleveland / Akron / Canton, OH 70 50 -20
Toledo, OH 71 88 +17
Charleston / Huntington, WV 72 11 -61
New Orleans, LA 73 35 -38
New York, NY 74 89 +15
Milwaukee, WI 75 76 +1
Paducah, KY / Cape Girardeau, MO / Harrisburg, IL / Mt Vernon, IL 76 19 -57
Tucson / Sierra Vista, AZ 77 82 +5
Cedar Rapids / Waterloo, IA 78 96 +18
Fresno / Visalia, CA 79 70 -9
Flint / Saginaw / Bay City, MI 80 52 -28
Harlingen / Weslaco / Brownsville / McAllen, TX 81 46 -35
Boston, MA / Manchester, NH 82 98 +16
Rochester, NY 83 83 +0
Johnstown / Altoona, PA 84 40 -44
Albuquerque / Santa Fe, NM 85 51 -34
Pittsburgh, PA 86 67 -19
Ft. Myers / Naples, FL 87 77 -10
El Paso, TX / Las Cruces, NM 88 62 -26
Davenport, IA / Rock Island / Moline, IL 89 44 -45
Hartford / New Haven, CT 90 94 +4
Green Bay / Appleton, WI 91 85 -6
Syracuse, NY 92 86 -6
Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, PA 93 84 -9
Las Vegas, NV 94 90 -4
Portland / Auburn, ME 95 91 -4
Buffalo, NY 96 95 -1
Albany / Schenectady / Troy, NY 97 99 +2
Providence, RI / New Bedford, MA 98 100 +2
Burlington, VT / Plattsburgh, NY 99 92 -7
Salt Lake City, UT 100 87 -13

Posted by Stephen

What Are America’s Most Bible-Minded Cities?

americas-most-bible-minded-cities-infographic-2014-american-bible-society What’s the most “Bible-minded” city in the United States? Though it ranks 87th in population size, Chattanooga, TN, ranks number one in “Bible-mindedness” among US cities, according to a recent survey by the American Bible Society (ABS) and Barna Group.

Chattanooga takes over the number-one ranking from Knoxville, TN, which claimed the top spot in 2012. (For the purposes of the study, “Bible-mindedness” was calculated based on combined levels of regular Bible reading and residents’ belief in the Bible’s accuracy.)

Here are the ten most and least Bible-minded cities, based on the survey (click on the image above to see the full list):

Most Bible-Minded Cities in the U.S.

  1. Chattanooga, TN
  2. Birmingham, AL
  3. Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA
  4. Springfield, MO
  5. Shreveport, LA
  6. Charlotte, NC
  7. Greenville/Spartanburg, SC/Asheville, NC.
  8. Little Rock, AR
  9. Jackson, MS
  10. Knoxville, TN

Least Bible-Minded Cities in the U.S.

  1. Providence, RI/ New Bedford, MA
  2. Albany, NY
  3. Boston, MA
  4. San Francisco, CA
  5. Cedar Rapids, IA
  6. Buffalo, NY
  7. Hartford/New Haven, CT
  8. Phoenix, AZ
  9. Burlington, VT
  10. Portland, ME

You can read a thorough breakdown of the results (and find out more about how the survey was conducted) at the ABS website. The findings suggest an inverse relationship between population density and Bible friendliness. Of the top 25 Bible-minded cities, only three have a population of greater than 1 million households: Charlotte; Nashville, TN; and Dallas, TX. Only one of the top 10 (Charlotte) ranks in the top 25 cities by population size.

We thought it would be interesting to do a quick comparison of these findings with our own data about the cities that most frequently read the Bible online at Bible Gateway. Here’s what we found:

U.S. Cities that most frequently visit

  1. New York, NY
  2. Los Angeles, CA
  3. Houston, TX
  4. Chicago, IL
  5. Dallas, TX
  6. Atlanta, GA
  7. San Antonio, TX
  8. Washington, DC
  9. San Francisco, CA
  10. Charlotte, NC

The above list is much simpler than ABS’ study, so we shouldn’t read too much into it—it’s just a measure of the total number of visits to Bible Gateway, and unlike the ABS survey it doesn’t delve into the details of how and why people in those cities are reading the Bible online. But among other things, it does suggest that we shouldn’t write off America’s largest cities, or the entire U.S. East Coast, quite yet!

For a more detailed exploration of our own data, see our blogpost What Are Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” Cities?.

Christianity Today did another analysis of the survey and suggests one theory as to why certain cities “embrace the Bible” more than others: 19 of the top 20 most “Bible-minded” cities host sizable Christian colleges. Read further coverage in CT’s article, More Bible Stats: Top 100 Searching Cities Look Very Different from Top 100 Believing Cities.

How do the results of the ABS survey strike you—any surprises? How might you explain the apparent differences between ABS’ survey results and Bible Gateway’s list? Stop by our page on Facebook to share your thoughts.

Posted by Jonathan

New Videos: Did a Historical Adam Really Exist?

adamLast month, with the help of our friends at Zondervan Academic, we posted a series of different perspectives on the question of biblical inerrancy. Today, we turn to another topic that relates to the discussion about biblical interpretation: the question of the “historical Adam.”

The question of whether Adam and Eve actually existed—as real people who lived in real history and who are the parents of all humanity—has become a touchy question within evangelical Christian theology.

Some scholars insist that a historical Adam is necessary; after all, the apostle Paul contrasts Adam and Jesus and seems to view Adam as equally historical, and many Christian doctrines have traditionally hinged on Adam. Other scholars doubt both the existence of a man named Adam and his necessity to our faith.

4 Views on the Historical AdamUnderlying the disagreement about Adam are questions about evolution and the inerrancy of Scripture, the kind of issues by which institutions define themselves and over which professors can lose jobs.

To give you a taste of the different views and what’s at stake in this debate, we’ve collected new videos from contributors and editors of the new Zondervan book, Four Views on the Historical Adam.

A Young-Earth View on the Historical Adam
(With Contributor William D. Barrick)

The Historical Adam as “Archetypal Figure”
(With Contributor John Walton)

The Historical Adam Debate
(With General Editor Matthew Barrett)

Why is the Historical Adam Debate Essential?
(With General Editor Ardel Caneday)

Unfortunately we could not obtain videos with contributors Denis O. Lamoreux and C. John Collins, but you will find some of their major points summarized below.


What are the Four Views on the Historical Adam?

Here are key points from all four of the book’s contributors, taken from their “Four Views on the Historical Adam” talks at the latest meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. To learn more about the essential debate over the historical Adam, check out the new book from Zondervan, Four Views on the Historical Adam. -Zondervan Academic (@ZonderAcademic)

1. No Historical Adam: Evolutionary Creation View — Denis Lamoureux

  • Since Scripture is true and science at its best is true, it may be reasonable to assume that the Bible and science should align—but they don’t. “Scientific concordism,” which has been a default position among many evangelicals, is not itself taught by Scripture.
  • What we find in Scripture, instead, are examples of ancient perspectives on taxonomy and human history. “Adam” was the best of ancient science, but he never existed.
  • The ancient science in Scripture shouldn’t harm our trust in Scripture, because God was simply accommodating his word to the original readers. The science is incidental, but the spiritual truths are inerrant.
  • Evolution is teleological, meaning guided by God, and it was the process by which he guided the creation that he continues to sustain and oversee.

2. A Historical Adam: Archetypal Creation View — John Walton

  • Although most scholars have traditionally viewed the creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 as a fuller explanation of God’s creation of man and woman on Day 6 in Genesis 1, Walton questions that understanding.
  • Genesis 2 is a “sequel” to Genesis 1. Walton outlined the use of “sequels” as a literary feature throughout Genesis.
  • Genesis 2 is not focused on the material creation of humans. It is focused on God’s purpose for humans. Adam and Eve were real people, archetypes of the human race, but they may not have been the very first people or the parents of all humanity.
  • Scripture doesn’t include an account of the biological or material creation of humanity. Since the Bible doesn’t make claims along these lines, Christians are free to consider various methods for the creation of humans including evolution.

3. A Historical Adam: Old-Earth Creation View — John Collins

  • “Historical” does not equal “literal.” Nor does it mean “prose,” “complete in detail,” “free from ideological bias,” “told in exact chronological sequence,” etc. Collins stressed that the Genesis creation accounts are intended to be history, but that biblical history needn’t match modern understandings of history.
  • In response to the assertion that the Bible and other ancient near eastern literature creates history out of mythology, Collins quoted K. A. Kitchen: The ancient near east did not historicize myth… there was, rather, a trend to ‘mythologize’ history.” In other words, ancient near eastern people did not turn myths into history. Instead, some people added mythic aspects to real history.
  • According to Collins, history matters because biblical faith is based on a narrative of God’s creating and redeeming work; it is not based merely on assent to timeless spiritual truths. Thus, the historical existence of Adam is essential to the Christian story and our faith.

4. A Historical Adam: Young Earth Creation View — William Barrick

  • Barrick’s underlying assumptions: the universe is not billions of years old (though he holds to an earth that’s older than 7,000 years), God is the ultimate author of Genesis, Scripture is independently accurate (thus it doesn’t need outside verification), Scripture should be interpreted the same way all throughout it, Genesis 1-11 is universal in scope, and both the Old Testament and New Testament assume a common and historical human origin stemming from Adam.
  • The contrasting assumptions Barrick rejects: evolutionary science, an old earth, the view that biblical authors held a pre-scientific perspective (he believes that ancient Hebrew believers did not hold to a solid firmament in the sky, a 3-storey universe, etc.)
  • His conclusion: If you read the text straightforwardly, not reading between the lines, a historical Adam created directly by God is what you find.

Learn more about these views in the new Zondervan book Four Views on the Historical Adam.

Posted by Zondervan Academic

The Bible Gateway App Gets a New Look for iOS 7

The Bible Gateway app has gotten a complete visual makeover! We’ve updated the app to correspond with the look and feel of iOS 7.

The updated app has a slimmer, cleaner, and more intuitive design that fits in visually with your other iOS 7 apps, and optimizes the experience of reading and studying the Bible. The updated app features a more user-friendly design; among other things, we’ve eliminated several visual elements that were proving distracting for users. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find when you open up the updated app (click to enlarge):


This is a major visual update, and we understand that this change may take a little while to get used to. But we’re very excited about the app’s new look, and we’re confident that you’ll love it as much as we do. Please note that though the app’s appearance has changed, its functionality has not—all of the app’s content and features remain unchanged.

We encourage you to take a look and try out the new design! If you already have the app installed on your iOS 7 device, you will be (or already have been) prompted to update to the newest version. If you don’t yet have the app, you can get it free here. The latest visual update only applies to iOS 7 users, although the app is available for Android, Kindle Fire, and earlier versions of iOS.

Update: Here’s what some of our fans on Twitter have been saying about the app’s new look:

Posted by Andy

The Bible and Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLKJToday is Martin Luther king, Jr. Day in the U.S.—a holiday dedicated to the memory of the influential civil rights activist and preacher. Because King understood the struggle for civil rights to be a spiritual as well as political crusade, his speeches and writings often drew heavily on the Bible.

How familiar are you with the Scriptural basis for King’s message? Here are several posts we’ve published here on the blog over the last few years exploring those Bible references:

Posted by Andy

Where Do You Read the Bible? Bible Gateway Visitors Share Their Answers

In a recent online poll, we asked visitors to the Bible Gateway blog where they most often read the Bible. Thousands of readers responded; here’s what they shared.

A full 30% of poll respondents say they read their Bible most often in a study room in their home. Not far behind are those who say they read “everywhere” because they use a mobile Bible app (19%).

The next most common location for Bible reading is in bed before drifting off to sleep (19%), followed by church (6%), the dinner table (5%), at the office (5%), in a Bible study group (3%), and during their commute to work (1%). Twelve percent say they read the Bible most often in other locations.

The relatively high number of people who take the Bible with them everywhere via a mobile app fits with the results of our previous poll, in which six out of every ten people said mobile device Bible apps (like the Bible Gateway App) have caused them to read the Bible more than they did before they downloaded the apps.

Wherever you do your Bible reading, we encourage you to read the Bible daily. Our email, mobile, and online reading plans, newsletters, and devotionals make engagement with Scripture as convenient as possible for you.

Our next Bible Gateway poll asks: Does a digital Bible on a mobile device have the same significance as a print Bible in political and judicial swearing-in ceremonies? Share your answer below:

Does a digital Bible on a mobile device have the same significance as a print Bible in political and judicial swearing-in ceremonies?

  • No, only a print Bible is acceptable (61%, 3,078 Votes)
  • Yes, either digital or print is acceptable (23%, 1,170 Votes)
  • Yes, but the Bible text must be showing on the screen or it doesn't count (9%, 468 Votes)
  • Neither--a Bible is not necessary for such ceremonies (9%, 463 Votes)
  • Yes--in fact, a digital Bible should be the preferred method (0%, 235 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,063

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Posted by Jonathan

When Reading the Bible Becomes a Chore: Six Ways to Keep Your Bible Reading on Track This Year

Should Christians read through the Bible in one year? Christianity Today recently asked some prominent Christian leaders and thinkers whether that’s a good idea. Here’s how Bible Gateway’s general manager Rachel Barach answered:

“What’s important is regularly listening to God through his Word. If a reading plan motivates you, use it. But if it becomes a chore that deters you from Scripture, don’t get caught up in the method; remember the reason.”

Several other answers shared Rachel’s hesitance to unconditionally recommend reading through the Bible in a year. At first, that surprised me a little bit—after all, how could a Christian not say “absolutely, yes!” when asked if reading the Bible is a good idea?

Of course, what Rachel and the others are pointing out isn’t that Bible reading is a bad idea. They’re simply observing that we can get so wrapped up in following a routine—for example, a New Year’s resolution to read through the entire Bible in 2014—that we lose sight of the real reason we started in the first place. Worse yet, if the routine we commit to following is too difficult and burdensome, we reach a point where we actually dread reading the Bible. When all we can think about is meeting our daily quota of Bible reading, even a beautiful activity like reading God’s Word can feel like a chore.

We’re about two weeks into the New Year. Right now, many of you who made a resolution to read through the Bible in 2014 might be starting to question that commitment. If you started at the beginning of the Bible, you’re well into the Books of Moses, where countless well-intentioned would-be Bible readers have floundered on a sea of ancient legal codes, genealogies, and stories that are sometimes strange and upsetting.

Are you starting to regret your commitment? Have you started to fall behind schedule with your reading? Are you starting to dread your Bible reading?

If so, take heart. Here are six ways to save your floundering Bible reading commitment.

1. Don’t let yourself bog down in passages you don’t understand. It doesn’t matter where you are in your spiritual journey: at some point during your year of Bible reading, you will run into passages and stories that you don’t understand. (If you are reading the Bible from start to finish, you are actually starting with some of the Bible’s most challenging books.) You may even come across entire books of the Bible that confound, bore, or upset you. This is completely normal. Christians believe that all parts of Scripture are inspired by God and worthy of reflection—but right now, just focus on reading. Keep a list of passages you don’t fully grasp; you’ll have time later on to return to Bible passages that confused you on your intitial reading. When you do return to those passages later, you’ll find that having read the entire Bible gives you a better context for understanding them.

This is not to say that you should skim or skip over every difficult Bible passage you come across. But don’t bring your reading momentum to a halt over one difficult chapter.

2. Change your Bible reading environment. The time and place in which you read the Bible can help or hurt your reading experience. If getting up 30 minutes early to read the Bible just isn’t working for you, or if reading it right before bedtime is making you too sleepy, then try a different time during the day. If the readings are too long for one sitting, split your Bible reading into smaller chunks throughout the day—maybe instead of reading for 30 minutes straight at night, you read for 10 minutes each after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Get an audio Bible and listen to your daily reading during your commute to and from work. You might need to try several different times and strategies until you figure out what combination of place and time puts you in a reflective, attentive mindset for reading.

3. Change the Bible you’re reading. You commited to reading the Bible—but you probably didn’t commit to reading one specific translation of the Bible! Different English Bible translations read very differently from one another, and finding a Bible that “reads well” for you is critical. Some translations revel in majestic, old-fashioned language; others employ chatty, everyday language; and most fall somewhere between those extremes. So if you’re stumbling over the wording, the problem may simply be that the Bible you’re reading isn’t a good match for the way your brain thinks. If you think that’s the case, try a different translation for a little while and see if it clicks for you.

4. Get somebody else involved. Any major commitment works better if you enlist the help of somebody else. At its most basic, this could be a friend or family member who will check in with you periodically to see if you’re keeping up with your reading. Better yet, this person will actively encourage and pray for you throughout the year. If you know somebody else who’s reading through the Bible, meet with them regularly to exchange insights, frustrations, and words of encouragement as you journey through God’s Word.

5. Stick with it; it will get easier. Research shows that it takes about two months for a repeated activity to become a habit. Your daily Bible reading may seem awfully difficult now, but if you can make it through the initial few months, it will become a part of your daily routine. Keep at it, and before you know it, your day just won’t feel right without time spent reading God’s Word.

6. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This is a simple one: don’t beat yourself up too much for struggling to stick with a Bible reading commitment. There’s a reason that so few Christians read the Bible daily: it’s hard. The Bible is a complex, diverse collection of documents. Some parts are easy to read and understand; others are quite challenging for modern readers. So go ahead and admit that by choosing to read through the entire thing, you’re embracing a real challenge. If it’s tough going at points, it’s not because you’re a bad Christian or a spiritual failure. And if you need to scale back your reading commitment or even bow out completely, that’s much better than subjecting yourself to daily guilt and resentment over it.

So take heart—if you’ve committed to reading the Bible, you’re embarking on a difficult, but very rewarding, journey. It’s our prayer that time spent each day in God’s Word, whether it’s one verse or several chapters, will bless and enrich your life this year.

Posted by Andy

Three Reasons That Bible Reading is Down in an Age of Easy Bible Access

Peter Enns has an interesting post up identifying the three biggest reasons that people aren’t reading the Bible as much in churches, based on information he learned at a recent conference. Here’s an abbreviated list of the three reasons he describes:

Bible reading is down because people read it…

In fragments, meaning in the verse level rather than in large sections.

A-historically, meaning without a feel for the historical context of the texts being read.

In isolation, meaning individual “devotions” rather than in groups.

Read his full post for more context and discussion of this list.

What do you think of these reasons—do they hit home when you think about Bible reading in your church and personal life?

One reason Enns’ list caught my attention is that all of the reasons he identifies are trends that are enabled—or at very least not countered—by the tools of the digital era. The digital era has made it easier than ever for people to access the Bible in the place, format, and timeframe of their choice. We can pull up exactly the Bible verse we want and in total privacy. And those are without a doubt good things.

But I think we can appreciate the incredible value of this level of access to the Bible and still be aware of the possible drawbacks. Our web browsers, mobile apps, and email programs make it easy to skip some of the harder, less fun, but nonetheless important elements of the Bible experience: reading it in community with fallible fellow believers… taking the time to explore challenging and sometimes confusing parts of Scripture in order to better understand God’s Word as a whole… interacting regularly with others about what we read, and how it’s transforming us.

These are important issues for citizens of the digital Christian world—including us at Bible Gateway and our peers—to consider, and we do keep them in mind. (When Bible Gateway’s general manager Rachel Barach spoke about discipleship in the digital age at last year’s Christian New Media Conference, she challenged the audience to wrestle with these ideas.)

But these are also things that each of us, as individual Bible readers who turn to God’s Word in our web browsers and mobile devices, should consider. The benefits of digital Bible access are undeniable. But do the digital tools we use to access Scripture shape our Bible reading in other ways? Do our tools sometimes isolate our reading from the church community, or make it too easy to read just the parts of Scripture that we want to read? What attitudes and behaviors can we practice to make sure that we’re reading the Bible as much, and as completely, as we can?

Posted by Andy